We compared findings of an audit of New Zealand's version of the second opinion appointed doctor (SOAD) scheme with published information on the equivalent scheme for England and Wales, to consider what might be learnt from the different jurisdictions' experience.
Strong similarities exist between the two schemes in the demographic profile of individuals subject to the SOAD process and rates of approval of compulsory treatment. The clearer legal framework for the English scheme and its supervision by an independent national agency may offer significant advantages in terms of consistency and transparency, compared with the informal, decentralised structure of New Zealand's scheme.
Clinicians may not always favour greater formality or elaborate national structures for administering the Mental Health Act, but there are advantages in promoting clarity and consistency in a mandatory statutory process designed to protect compulsory patients' rights.
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